The Toronto Blue Jays have lost five straight games and Burnett has lost five straight starts, so one of those streaks will end as Burnett’s New York Yankees begin a three-game set against the visiting Blue Jays on Friday night.
Burnett (6-7, 5.25 ERA), who won 38 games for Toronto from 2006-08, went 13-9 in his first season with the Yankees in 2009 and got off to a 6-2 start with a 3.28 ERA this year.
The sudden deterioration in the right-hander’s performance, however, has been stunning. Burnett has posted an 11.35 ERA during his longest losing streak since dropping his final six decisions for Florida in 2005.
He gave up six runs and six hits with six walks in three-plus innings of a 9-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
“I’ve been saying all along that he is going to get out of this and he will,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Every great player has been through slumps. I think struggles with pitchers always start with command. Anyone who can command the baseball can have success.”
Burnett, who has also been dealing with the recent death of his grandfather, gave up six runs - three homers - in six innings of a 6-1 loss at Toronto on June 4. Since joining the Yankees, he is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays.
Toronto’s bats, however, have gone all but silent as the team has matched its longest slide of the season. With a 9-18 record since the beginning of June, the fourth-place Blue Jays (40-40) have slipped nine games behind the AL East-leading Yankees.
Jose Bautista(notes) is batting .154 with two home runs and five RBIs in 23 games since hitting two homers off Burnett last month. Adam Lind(notes) continues to slump with one home run and a .157 average in his last 25 games.
The Blue Jays were held without a home run while getting swept in a four-game set at Cleveland this week. That drought is the longest of the season for the team that leads the majors with 115 homers.
“Terrible, awful, we played terrible,” manager Cito Gaston said of the series.
New York (48-30) had to scramble to avoid getting swept by Seattle at Yankee Stadium this week.
The Yankees couldn’t solve Mariners co-aces Cliff Lee(notes) and Felix Hernandez(notes) in losses Tuesday and Wednesday, but won 4-2 on Thursday when Alex Rodriguez(notes) broke a tie with a two-run, eighth-inning homer - the 595th of his career.
Like the Blue Jays, New York will have the benefit of facing a slumping pitcher Friday. Brett Cecil(notes) (7-5, 4.39) has gone 0-3 with a 9.19 ERA in his last three starts, allowing 10 hits and seven runs - five earned - in 4 2-3 innings of an 11-2 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.
“The ball just keeps drifting up a little bit,” Cecil told the Blue Jays’ official website. “I’m unbelievably frustrated, obviously. The great thing about it is you’ve just got to keep pitching.”
The skid follows a stretch in which Cecil went 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA in five starts from May 19-June 10. The left-hander beat Burnett with eight strong innings June 4.
Cecil’s only appearance at Yankee Stadium didn’t go as well. He gave up seven runs in 3 2-3 innings of Toronto’s 10-8 loss July 5, part of the Blue Jays’ 3-6 showing in the Bronx last year.